Advice from a first semester law student in Germany

Hello there! My name is Lucia, I am an 18 years old Law Student from Berlin Germany. I just started my first semester at Freie Universität Berlin this October and in parallel created my very own Law School blog “Lady Lawyer”. I usually post Thursdays and Sundays and write about a variety of Law School related topics, from motivation and mental health, study tips & techniques, to more personal life-related things such as how to build a law school wardrobe.

Enough about myself; LegalPlatform kindly invited me to write a guest post on here. Since I am a Law Student in Germany myself, I thought It’d be a great idea to give you guys some advice on how to master (or maybe first of all “survive”) Law School in this country, no matter if you’re an exchange student from anywhere in this world or a local law student from my university. -I hope these tips can help you out!

1. Set Goals
I cannot stress enough how important this is. Goals give you a perspective and make you feel satisfied after you’ve accomplished them. Without goals, you’ll have zero motivation to keep going, especially when times are hard. My tip is to set smaller and bigger goals. For example, set goals for every day, every week, every semester, exam, essay, you name it. But also, for your state exam, for your future career and for life in general. Every step you take should be one towards your end life goals.

2. Push yourself but stay gentle to yourself at the same time
Striving is great! Go for it, overcome your fear/anxiety/laziness and do it. Just do it. Push yourself every time to go a little further than you thought you could go. But also, don’t overstrain yourself. Your abilities are like a muscle, you must stretch them to succeed but if you exaggerate, it might snap and you’ll be at point zero again. Always listen to your physical and mental health and be gentle to yourself. You’re doing the best you can.

3. Stay positive throughout failure
Exam season in Germany starts in February, so there’s still plenty of time to shift the game and start studying the heck out of your books now. If you should still fail your classes or won’t be satisfied with the grade you got, don’t worry. Every Lawyer starts from scratch, every Law Student fails an exam at some point, every Law Student goes through phases of feeling incompetent and wanting to give up. Be smart: don’t give into that feeling. Don’t give up. Your grades never determine how good of a Lawyer you’re going to be one day!

4. Make time for yourself and for friends & family
Whilst putting so much pressure on yourself and never seeing an end to the huge pile of work you still need to get done, it’s easy to feel guilty when making time for yourself and the persons you love. But reality is, if you don’t take care of yourself (body and soul), you’ll burn out eventually and won’t be able to be the best law student possible anymore. You need time off from school work. If you don’t automatically get that time; take it! Schedule in at least 1-2 hours of me-time every single day. That time does not have to be spent unproductive though! Draw something, do yoga, try out cooking or baking… anything you like. Also, don’t let your friends and family hanging in busy times. Spending time with others can totally de-stress and inspire you. A shopping trip with your best friend never hurt nobody. -Quite the opposite!

5. Build up a routine
An everyday- or a weekly routine is one of the most important things to have in order to cope with a very busy school schedule. Law School is a lot of work. If you have a settled routine though, it doesn’t actually feel like that much at all anymore.
I usually go to class in the morning and afterwards prepare next day’s lessons. At last I spend some quality time with my boyfriend or my mom. I often take a bath at night in order to de-stress after a long day.

6. Work ahead
As I just mentioned, I like to prepare each day’s lessons beforehand. What I also do is actually preparing as much of the entire week as I can. Some of my professors will put their presentations for the week up online where you can already read them before the actual lecture. That is very helpful since it transforms all lectures into mere repetitions of what I already know. This is great because it makes me feel way less overwhelmed in class.
I prepare each week’s lectures on Sundays and Mondays (since I only have one Methodenkurs on Monday and have plenty of time afterwards). Often times I’ll head to the Law School library therefor. In addition to preparing the next week, I like to repeatedly read through all my notes from the bygone week on Saturdays.

7. Wake up and go to bed early
This is also really important, especially for people who suffer from anxiety in the mornings, like me. Waking up at 6 am (or preferably earlier) every single morning -no matter how late classes start that day- gives me the opportunity to get ready, have breakfast and most importantly, drink my tea! in a calm and relaxed mood, without having to check the time every two seconds. All spare time that is left each morning, I use to read through my notes again. Waking up early automatically makes you want to go to bed at a reasonable time, too. That way it is easy to get enough hours of sleep. I usually fall asleep at around 9pm and get up at 6, so that makes 9 hours of sleep which is amazing!

8. Attend every lecture
Even if you can view the entire presentation online, it is still important to attend class! The lecturer could be adding important information that is not provided on the slides. Also, he might give hints on what could be important in the exam. Besides, not going to class totally throws you out of the rhythm and getting used to skipping is a really bad habit.

9. Start studying early AF
This one is so important. There is so so much content in every single module that you need to know by heart for the exams that it is sheer impossible to cope with all of that in just a few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, exam season starts in February. As it is now November, I just started summing up all I’ve learned far. I’ll continue to do so for the rest of the semester but by December I’ll begin to Lawyer! study all that I’ve summed up and learn it by heart.

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